Russians’ Large Stake in Facebook Grows Larger

BY ANDREW E. KRAMER

MOSCOW — What do the Russians want from Facebook?

And what, for that matter do they want from other hot, and currently private, American companies like Zynga, Groupon and Twitter?

For people with money in the Russian investment company DST Global, the focus is social networking.

The private company, which is generally known here as DST, may seem but a footnote in the move by Goldman Sachs to invest $450 million in Facebook.

But DST’s additional $50 million now raises it and its sister company’s combined investment in Facebook to more than $500 million. As a result of their earlier investments, they now own about 10 percent of the company, making the DST siblings among Facebook’s biggest owners.

When DST, previously known as Digital Sky Technologies,first started putting money into Facebook in 2009, some analysts chalked it up to an effort by novice Russian investors to burnish their technology credentials and gain entree to Silicon Valley. But DST, which is bankrolled by a coal and steel mogul with Kremlin ties, has placed some ambitious, and so far successful, bets.

It now owns about 5 percent of the popular online gaming company Zynga and about 5 percent of the prominent shopping-coupon company Groupon. And it is said to be interested in investing in another privately held phenomenon, Twitter.

A DST representative did not answer phone calls about the deal on Monday, which was a holiday in Russia.

To read more of this article: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/russians-large-stake-in-facebook-grows-larger/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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